8 Most Beautiful Places in New England to See Fall Foliage
K.C. was a featured writer for Yahoo! Travel before joining trips to discover in 2013. She is the author of Best Travel Guide for First Time Visitors to Ireland, an Amazon bestseller every year between 2013 and 2016. She has been a featured expert on Newsweek, Travel + Leisure, Travelocity, among others.
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The charming towns of New England are famous for their incredibly vibrant, colorful autumn foliage, and this Northeast region knows how to do fall — historic inns, covered bridges, and cobblestone streets, all made more beautiful with a mosaic of colors in the backdrop. However, if you’re looking for the best of the best, head to one or more of these fabulous destinations.
Stockbridge is in the heart of the Berkshires, one of the nation’s top spots for leaf-peeping. Stroll the charming streets, lined with antique shops and museums, including the Norman Rockwell Museum. Stockbridge is famous as the birthplace of the 20th-century American author, painter and illustrator, and here you can view an impressive collection of his original works, personal memorabilia and his study as well as learn which area landmark inspired author Herman Melville to write the classic, Moby Dick. In addition to fall foliage, the surrounding scenic countryside is ideal for hiking, biking and bird watching.
New Hampshire’s White Mountains are another one of the top travel destinations in the fall, and North Conway is arguably in the heart of it all, popular for its outlet shops and scenic railway. But you can avoid the biggest crowds by staying in the small town of Jackson, which not only offers a more tranquil experience but also quintessential New England-covered bridges and pastoral scenery. It’s an outdoor lover’s paradise with hiking, biking, fishing and more, along with some of the best antiquing in the state.
East Haddam sits in the Connecticut River Valley, surrounded by the spectacular natural beauty that includes historical farmsteads and gorgeous waterfalls as well as a remarkable array of colorful birch, dogwood, sumac, maple trees, and the state’s trademark white oaks. If it looks familiar, that may be because it served as the fictional town of Stars Hollow in the “Gilmore Girls.” Some of the most beautiful views can be found from Gillette Castle, a European-inspired mansion that is one of the must-see castles in the United States. Other things to do include visiting the Nathan Hale Schoolhouse, filled with desks and tools that would have been found in an 18th-century schoolhouse, and catching a show at the Godspeed Opera House, which sits in a grand Victorian building.
Vermont is home to countless picture-postcard New England villages, complete with those quaint country stores and striking autumn colors. Some of the best views can be had by hiking to the top of Mount Killington. Look forward to a wide variety of recreational activities, including the Beast Mountain Coaster located at Snowshed Lodge with a 4,800-foot-long alpine coaster that twists and turns through the woods with 360-degree corkscrews and supplies thrills for all ages, as well as scenic gondola rides. For the most scenic drive, hit the Green Mountain Byway, which stretches between Stowe and Waterbury. You may want to base yourself in Mad River Valley or Stowe, where you’ll find lots of fantastic craft beer, farm-to-table dining and the opportunity to soar through the colorful landscape on the nearly two-mile zipline at Stowe’s ZipTour.
Kent is a top destination in Connecticut that offers spectacular leaf-peeping in the Berkshires, with its winding roads lined with reds, golds and sometimes deep scarlet hues, along with farms, lakes, meadows and a backdrop of mountain summits. Macedonia Brook State Park is home to the Cobble Mountain Trail, a favorite with hikers in autumn seeking vantage points to enjoy views high above color-blanketed valleys. Kent itself is noted for its outstanding eateries, antiques and art galleries, just minutes from Kent Falls State Park, which boasts views of 200-foot-high waterfalls. Visitors can also rent a canoe or kayak and paddle through the Housatonic’s rapids. The stretch of river north of Falls Village is especially tranquil and calm, ideal for viewing those impressive crimson and gold landscapes.
New Hampshire is renowned as one of the best destinations on the planet for viewing the brilliant reds and golds of autumn. The very best colors can be found inland, away from the coast, and at higher elevations, like the Lakes Region which is made up of Lake Winnipesaukee, Squam Lake, Lake Ossipee, Mirror Lake, Newfound Lake and Lake Winnisquam. The area is protected from the harsh coastal winds and doesn’t rise more than 600 feet above sea level, providing the very best chance for a longleaf season, typically from late September through late October. Heading out on a kayak or canoe on any one of the lakes here brings some of the most breathtaking views with red maples along the water’s edge reflected into the water.
Acadia National Park is frequently found among lists of the top spots in the U.S. for fall foliage, with the especially jaw-dropping hues of autumn found along the 40-mile stretch of the Acadia Byway, where visitors can enjoy jaw-dropping wild coastlines along with an array of colors. On Mount Desert Island, leaves start to turn in September, though peak time is typically mid-October and can be anywhere from the first to the third week of the month. Hit the trails on foot or on a bicycle, and be prepared for an abundance of color, particularly atop the summit of Cadillac Mountain. Visitors can also ride the fare-free Island Explorer bus around the Park Loop Road or to any of the other destinations throughout the park and on Mount Desert Island, take a kayak tour and stay overnight at one of the nearby hotels.
Woodstock sits in the “quiet corner” of northeast Connecticut, an unspoiled area that boasts lots of small, classic New England towns with picturesque churches with tall white steeples and quintessential New England drives along Route 169. Taylor Brooke Winery on Route 171 in Woodstock welcomes guests Fridays through Sundays for tastings, self-guided vineyard tours, and picnics, as well as the opportunity to purchase all sorts of treats like sausage, cheese, dips and more to enjoy with your wine. Visitors will also find a number of fabulous inns, antique shops and restaurants.